SFO - Serious Fraud Office

Gilher Inc

1 December 2009

In November 2009 the SFO opened a criminal investigation into an alleged investment fraud operated by Gilher Inc, a Panama and Seychelles registered company. The scheme attracted over £10 million of investors' funds from UK residents and expatriates living in Spain. The scheme collapsed in late 2009 with investors losing an estimated £6+ million.

The investigation began with a property search conducted in West Byfleet, West Surrey on 13 November 2009 following complaints made to the SFO by investors. West Yorkshire and Surrey police forces and overseas law enforcement authorities assisted the SFO.

The SFO charged five individuals with criminal offences of fraud and money laundering as follows:

  1. John Neil Hirst (date of birth: 11/03/1951) was charged with conspiracy to defraud, making misleading statements contrary to s397(2) of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 and two counts of money laundering contrary to s327(1) and s328(1) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
  2. Richard John Pollett (date of birth: 05/02/1942) was charged with conspiracy to defraud and making misleading statements contrary to s397(2) of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.
  3. Linda Christine Hirst (date of birth: 24/10/1949) was charged with six counts of money laundering contrary to s327(1) and s329(1) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 together with one count of evading a liability by deception contrary to s2(1)(a) of the Theft Act 1978.
  4. Daniel James Hirst (date of birth: 11/08/1976) was charged with two offences of money laundering contrary to s328(1) and s329(1) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
  5. Zoë Waite (date of birth: 19/09/1975) was charged with one offence of money laundering contrary to s327(1) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

Updates

Update as of 18 March 2014

The court determined a benefit of £4,717,042 with available assets of £650,522.94 to be paid by John Hirst within 6 months.  Failure to pay could result in a 4 year default prison term.

Update as at 13 December 2013

Linda Hirst has been given a £785,638 confiscation order on 12 December 2013 - she has six months to pay or will face a default four year sentence.

The confiscation hearing for John Hirst will now take place on 18-20 March 2014.

Update as at 14 June 2013

On the 17th May 2013 at Bradford Crown Court, the following dates were set in relation to Confiscation hearings:

Linda Hirst on 02/08/2013

Richard Pollett on 18/10/2013

John Hirst on 12/12/2013

Update as at 15 May 2013

On the 26 March 2013 the Court of Appeal dismissed appeals against sentence in regards to John Hirst and Linda Hirst.

The sentence of 6 years and 6 months imposed against Richard Pollett was reduced by 6 months only to 6 years in total in consideration of time spent in custody in Spain awaiting extradition to the UK.

Update as at 22 February 2013 - appeal against sentence

John Hirst, Richard Pollett and Linda Hirst have appealed against the length of sentences imposed by Bradford CC following their conviction.

A short hearing was held at the Court of Appeal on 22 February 2013 following written submissions and a judgment will be issued by the Court in due course.

Update as at 21 February 2013

A directions hearing for confiscation proceedings is fixed for 5 April 2013 at Bradford Crown Court in relation to John Hirst, Linda Hirst and Richard Pollett.      

Update as at 10 September 2012 - trial verdict and sentencing

The trial concluded on 13 August 2012 and sentencing took place on Friday 31 August 2012. The results of the sentencing are as follows:

  • John Neil Hirst who pleaded guilty on 19 June 2012 to conspiracy to defraud and two counts of money laundering, contrary to s327(1) and 328(1) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 has been sentenced to 9 years' imprisonment;
  • Richard John Pollett who was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud on 13 August 2012 has been sentenced to 6 1/2 years' imprisonment;
  • Linda Christine Hirst who was found guilty of three counts of money laundering, contrary to s327(1) and s329(1) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and one count of evading a liability by deception contrary to s2 (1)(a) of the Theft Act 1978 on 13 August 2012 has been sentenced to 2 1/2 years' imprisonment.
  • Daniel Hirst and Zoe Waite were acquitted of charges of money laundering (Proceeds of Crime Act 2002) on 13 August 2012.

Update as at 16 August 2012

John Hirst pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud and two counts of money laundering before the trial. The trial of the other four defendants opened at Bradford Crown Court on 18 June 2012 with HHJ Jonathan Durham-Hall QC presiding. The jury retired on 6 August to consider its verdicts which were all returned on 13 August 2012. Richard John Pollett was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud and Linda Christine Hirst guilty of three counts of money laundering, contrary to s327(1) and s329(1) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. The jury also found her guilty of one count of evading a liability by deception contrary to s2 (1)(a) of the Theft Act 1978. Daniel Hirst and Zoe Waite were acquitted of charges of money laundering (Proceeds of Crime Act 2002).

Sentencing will take place on 31 August, followed by confiscation and compensation proceedings at a later date.

Update as at 4 May 2012

On Friday 20 April 2012 there was a case management hearing at Bradford Crown Court to deal with pre-trial administration.

The case was adjourned for trial to start on 18 June 2012 before HHJ Durham-Hall and is expected to last six to eight weeks.

All five defendants have entered not guilty pleas and remain on bail.

Previous press releases:

13 August 2012:      Guilty verdicts in £10m fraud trial

27 July 2011:          Ponzi suspect extradited from Spain

28 June 2011:         Three more charged in relation to a 10 million pounds "Ponzi" scheme

6 April 2011:           Investment company director charged

13 November 2009: SFO search Surrey warehouse in investment probe

Assets frozen

On 1 December 2009 the Serious Fraud Office obtained (in the Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey) a world-wide restraint order that prohibits the disposal of assets held by named individuals. The order was made under section 41 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.